A first section of the Regional Express Network (RER) between Ottignies and the junction towards Louvain-la-Neuve in Wallonia has been put into service. The RER, or GAN in Dutch, is a suburban network in and around Brussels.
The 2,5 km stretch consists of two central tracks for fast trains and two sidings for local trains. By the end of 2026, the entire suburban network within a 30 km radius around Brussels should be operational.
The new section that went into service on Monday should allow fast trains to no longer get blocked behind slower predecessors on line 161 between Brussels and Namur. “These two kilometers are not just symbolic,” says Mobility Minister Georges Gilkinet (Ecolo). “They improve the robustness of the network. Passengers have a right to a better service.”
Railway operator Infrabel also modernized the infrastructure of Ottignies station. The station now has three new platforms, one of which has now been put into use. By 2029, Ottignies will get six more recent platforms, making 12 tracks. These platforms will be more comprehensive, longer, and higher, which should make access to trains easier for passengers.
In 2025 and 2026, other new network sections in Wallonia will be used. By mid-2025, a 9-kilometer area should be ready between Brussels/Watermael and Terhulpen (Bakenbos), and by the end of 2026, a 10-kilometer section should be ready between Terhulpen and Ottignies.
As for line 124 towards Nivelles, it will be necessary to wait until 2029 for most of the connection to be upgraded from two to four tracks. Provided that the permits are granted – for the Flemish part of the route, particularly at Linkebeek – the complete finalization of the line could be effective in 2033.
The three Flemish RER lines, between Brussels and Leuven, Halle and Denderleeuw, respectively, have been completed since 2018.
Overall, the network was due to be put into service in 2012, but due to delays in some infrastructure works, some sections will thus not be operational before 2026.
The total cost of the RER has been calculated at 3,3 billion euros.